British Retail Consortium calls for tougher action on obesity

The British Retail Consortium has urged the UK government to take a tougher stance on tackling obesity; specifically, it emphasises the need for mandatory measures to be enforced rather than voluntary actions if any real impact is to be made.

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A growing problem

Obesity continues to be a growing problem and it is estimated that one in 10 of all deaths are linked to being overweight. Even more worrying, increasing numbers of children are overweight. According to ITV, one-third of 10- and 11-year-olds and over one-fifth of 4- and 5-year-olds in the UK are either overweight or obese.

Making a difference

The British Retail Consortium, which represents nearly 100 retailers in the UK, believes that the government needs to introduce stronger measures to tackle this issue, which must be compulsory rather than optional. Although voluntary agreements can have an impact, experts believe this is not enough to make a real and lasting difference.

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What can be done?

Experts are urging food manufacturers to make their products healthier. Public Health England has already stated that it will look at popular foods to assess their calorie content and introduce guidelines on how to make them more nutritional.

Taxes on sugary drinks will shortly be imposed by the government, which is welcome news. Experts argue, however, that there must also be tougher action to ensure junk items, such as sugary drinks or sweets, are not discounted or attractively marketed in supermarkets, as this could counteract any positive efforts being made. It is not just sugar that needs to be targeted, with health officials arguing that retailers also need to focus on slashing levels of fat and salt in food items.

Taking a wider approach

It is not just retailers that need to help address the obesity issue; in addition, the government should try to urge businesses on a much wider scale to get on board with providing a healthier approach to eating. This includes smaller companies, restaurants and catering businesses.

Whether catering firms sell food products or cookers and undercounter dishwashers, such as those available from, every business within the food and beverage sector will have a part to play.

Schools also need to get involved in the campaign to reduce obesity in children through education, providing healthy meals, and promoting sports.

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